30 January 2018, Cape Town. The Discovery Get Active Weekend which takes place on February 10 and 11, brings together elite athletes and sport enthusiasts alike to experience an exciting weekend of swimming, cycling and running in the scenic Mother City. This year, seven visually impaired athletes and their guides will take part in the Discovery Triathlon World Cup on 11 February.
As a health services provider, Discovery seeks to create and support events that encourage healthy behaviour. The Discovery Triathlon World Cup promotes inclusivity, with visually impaired athletes facilitated through a two-person team entry. The athlete and their guide are tethered for the run and swim segments of the race, and the cycling is completed using a tandem bicycle.
The visually impaired men’s team to watch in this race is “Team Tandemonium”, made up of Beijing track cycling Paralympic medallist Gavin Kilpatrick, and Michael Harris who will be his guide. Amongst the three visually impaired women and their guides, look out for Cornelia Liebenberg and her guide Celia Pienaar, both experienced ultra-marathon runners who are pushing themselves into new territory by taking part in this triathlon.
Harris, 41, and Kilpatrick, 36, who suffers from a rare sight condition known as Stargardts disease which results in the steady degeneration of one’s central vision, will be challenging the notion that extreme sporting events are impossible for the visually impaired. Harris, an experienced swimmer, cyclist and runner, will be steering the team during the event, and the pair look forward to raising much needed awareness of athletes with sight impairments.
“We want to show the world that even though you may not be able to see where you are going, you can still integrate into society and enjoy the many adrenalin junkie activities on offer in our beautiful country”, says Kilpatrick.
While they expect a tough day at the event, they hope to earn the respect of fellow competitors while inspiring others through their accomplishments.
Liebenberg, 42, and Pienaar, 57, will also be tackling the triathlon. Liebenberg is challenged with Retina Pigmentosis and Macular Degeneration, and is an accomplished ultra-marathon athlete. She completed her back-to-back Comrades in 2017, the Karoo Ultra-marathon 80km in 2015, and three triathlons.
Pienaar is also an ultra-marathon runner, having completed four Comrades and thirteen Two Oceans marathons, as well as five full Ironman competitions. She has represented South Africa at the World Championships in the Olympic Standard triathlon races four times.
This event represents a few firsts for the women, with Pienaar having never guided a blind person before, nor cycled on a tandem in a race. Liebenberg is not an experienced cyclist, having only started tandem cycling at the end of 2016. The two women are certainly set to push beyond their comfort zones and hope to inspire others to reach their goals and be brave in order to overcome challenges. And for them, it is not always about winning a race, but about taking part.
The Discovery Triathlon World Cup Cape Town is one of 18 events on the International Triathlon Union (ITU) calendar, and the only one taking place on African soil. Through the inclusion of a duathlon, and various race distances, it caters for high performance athletes, weekend warriors and novices alike, with the duathlon event offering those interested in a multisport event the chance to experience the run, cycle, run format.
For more information and to enter the triathlon: http://www.triathlon.capetown/